Pest Control: Book One

Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2005
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Pest Control: Book One Creator(s): Grant Springsford
Publishers: (Self Published)
From: UK
Price: £3.50 (+p&p)(UK)

Nicholas Black aka Air-Force is recuperating in a hospital bed when a straight-talking woman pays him a visit. She wants him to come and work for her organisation. He wants her to get out of his face. After some tough talk from both of them they reach an understanding. Similar encounters occur with a string of characters who make their way to base 13, a big example of brutalist architecture and a very scary place. Just perfect for a team of super-powered freaks who help deal with paranormal disturbances while trying to come to terms with their own fractured personalities.

I've had this book for a fair while: Grant sent it my way after I said nice things about issue 4. This book collect the first three issues plus issue 0. I read it ages a go and was pleased to find that it lived up to the experience of #4, and put it aside. Every time I clean up my room I find myself picking it up again and flicking through, thinking I should really review it when I get the chance. I don't think Grant intended it as a review copy so I've always given priority to the books that certainly were.

The thing is, this book really demands a review, 'cause it has to rate as the best comic I'd read in 2004. Now, it pains me to say this. Even though I enjoy super-hero comics I find the hold they have over the comic medium rather insidious. There are lots of worthwhile comics out there that don't even mention spandex, and I like that. I want more autobiographical comics, more personal and idiosyncratic stories that open up comics to a wider audience. The cliches of men and women in tight who fight villains in tights are all washed up and good riddance I say... then I pick up Pest Control again and have another read. Wow. These are some seriously damaged characters in a very weird situation. I want to know how they got that way and what happens next. Will they kill each other? Will some of them kill themselves. And just why is that guy's wife in a cocoon?

The artwork is just as creative as the writing. Sure, there is the occasional piece of awkwardness in some poses and facial features, but some of these characters look great. They have their own personalities, and this is reflected in their costumes -flashy, sexy, untidy, damaged. This book is creepy in the same way as the British cult TV show Sapphire and Steel - it knows that the creepiest things are often the smallest - strange noises, characters who say bizarre things like they mean them, staring into someone's face and seeing eyes that just aren't human.

One of the striking things about this book is the scope of Grants vision. He's obviously put a lot into the crafting of this epic. He puts us into the middle of a very complex narrative. It feels like it could fill a lot of pages, and that we'd want to read every one of them a couple of time. This book rewards the readers time. It's great. If the big companies had any sense they would be paying Grant to write this sort of stuff for them. If the comic public had any sense they'd all be reading this and the big companies would evolve or become extinct.

There. I've finally reviewed it. Now i can pack it away.... no, maybe I'll put it back in my to read pile...

In a Word: Benchmark.

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